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Wednesday, 26 September 2007


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Isn't the second story on Collins' daughter's list Shirley Jackson's "The Lottery"? Or has somebody decided to rewrite it?


That was my guess, too, but since I'm not familiar with young adult literature, I decided not to hold forth.


(Obligatory) Boy, I sure hope I get a job so I look forward to all that job security and leisure time.

It doesn't actually matter whether someone has rewritten Jackson's "The Lottery" or the child is reading the original like countless middleschoolers before her, since Collins brief mention of it suggests that she thinks it's plot is some shocking new betrayal of innocence to inflict on children, rather than a public school institution.

Dragon Management

In a somewhat realted matter...

"I have never been called to the principal's office for pushing my (honors) students to read and write above grade level...until today.

I wasn't technically reprimanded, but I was asked to engage in a "self-critique" of my expectations for my students, which I did for all of two seconds.

After school, I received a call from a parent--presumably one of the parents who had earlier contacted the school administration about my draconian methods and pie-in-the-sky expectations--who wanted to pull her kid from my class. "It seems like there's just too much reading in your class."

Yeah, I'm the asshole."

Dragon Management

I know; I see it. "Related," not "realted."


Seems to me that parents ought to have some input into what their children read. Outside of school, the parents can recommend and supply their children with all the "uplifting" or "classical" or "faith-driven" or mind-numbingly below grade level pulp they want.


p.s. Job security? The semester is the base unit of time in academia. Untenured faculty are evaluated -- on average -- every second semester, based largely on the productivity of the senior faculty who run the journals and the happy-happy results of student satisfaction surveys. Kiss ass or go home.

Karl Steel

It is tough to imagine a more “privileged” person than a tenured faculty member at a major university. Six figure income.

Huh? Really? What counts as a major university? And are they comparing, oh, Steven Greenblatt's salary (which I have to assume is considerable, but I imagine--here me McArdling--not in the mid 6's) to a newly minded Associate Prof at, say, Brooklyn College (where, so far as I know, it's more like 65K and then into the high 80s with full prof). Certainly comp sci or law profs can be paid more; but they're talking about the humanities, I presume.

And I've seen several asst prof jobs that pay 40K.



I will always regret trying to teach Sounder by having my students bring in a gun from home and going to the pound to look for a dog. Damn those parents, and damn those metal detectors at the school doors!


Six figure income

I see Karl beat me to the punch, but I must add: whaaa? Many public universities publish salaries as a matter of public record and, uh, no. Most certainly not among the novel-assigning faculty. Law faculty, medical faculty, econ faculty, yes.


Our salaries are also a matter of public record. A few years ago, an undergrad suggested that we get rid of the six-figure types and use their salaries for something, you know, useful. At the time, about six people on the faculty were earning in the six figures (low 100s)--I think there are more now--and, amazingly, they fell into one of three categories: business department; administrators; faculty at special ranks (e.g., University Professor) and/or ex-administrators who had been around for three decades or more. And we're one of the higher-paying SUNY campuses.

Tim Lacy

French is a joke. His cliches are tired.

Collins and Iannone, however, get to something more interesting. What about the Bible and Christianity's ability to distress a young reader? Does Christ's sacrifice make Collins' cohort of little girls feel inadequate? Does not the Sermon on the Mount make them feel spoiled and privileged? What of the biblical passage about rich people, the eye of a needle, and the difficulty of reaching heaven? I guess those little middle school girls are numb to, or unaware of, those distressing stories that justify the existence of the forum in which Collins complained. What does that say about what Collins and her fellow mothers are teaching their children? - TL


I don't think anyone's rewritten "The Lottery," but since I'm not familiar with YA literature, it's always a possibility. The other reason I held back was, well, because the mother took the story so literally, whereas it's really difficult to do that with the Jackson. In retrospect, I'm not sure Collins deserved the benefit of my doubt.

DM, it's not the parents fault, or, at least not entirely. After all, college students air the same complaints, despite being out of their parents' homes. Quite simply: they don't want to read, and they'll complain to anyone who will listen: parents, principals, course coordinators, &c.

Miriam, it doesn't surprise me that French and his ilk are pinning these salaries on humanities types: we're the useless ones, after all, whereas the business folk, well, they make money.

Tim, quit your logical and rational whining. Don't you see how oppressed the wealthy are? Have a little heart, won't you?


Isn't some sort of conflict a requirement in good literature?


one of the higher-paying SUNY campuses

SUNY Ithaca?

Tim Lacy

SEK: I guess mine are the problems of a those who still believe in reason! - TL


Brockport (about two hours away from Ithaca).

I rather like Ithaca--it's got a nice college-town feel and the bookstores are excellent--but apparently Cornell faculty recruits sometimes run screaming in terror when they see where the town actually is.


where the town actually is

I believe the phrase is, "centrally isolated." But that's not true! It's smack in the middle of upstate New York's rust-belt and desolated farming district!


This is simply a different understanding of "centrally located," where that center is along the diagonal axes between Lake Ontario and the Atlantic on the one hand and Pittsburgh and, um, Montpelier on the other. No, no, I clearly meant the northern shore of Ontario.

History Geek

Yes, heaven forbid the dear little things be distressed by what they're reading and you knowing having their minds expanded. Wonder what they would think about the books we read at my middle school, like Dicey's Song and Daphne's Book. And I'm sure even Dealing with Dragons would make upset them.


i'm just interested in how the figure of the child is now being trotted out not just as a conservative prop in the usual way, but in order to police the canon?! edelman et al may be on to something. i guess it's nothing new, but does this debate really have anything to do with children (any more than other people)?

and btw, my students all seem to be a helluva lot more privileged than me at the moment...better dressed, nicer cars, faster internet. so i'ma find some readings to make them feel like shit!

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